The National Bank of Cambodia has a rich and complex history which can be
divided into four distinct periods.
|- 1954 to 1964:
| Cambodia gained independence from the French protectorate in 1953
and the National Bank of Cambodia was established. The NBC gained
autonomy of printing riel as the national currency as well as
managing the banking system in Cambodia.
|- 1975 to 1979:
|The National Bank of Cambodia was closed due to the Khmer Rouge
regime. The building was destroyed, the banking system collapsed,
and the use of Khmer riel notes was eliminated.
|- 1979 to 1993:
| Rebuilding the National Bank of Cambodia from scratch and reissuing
of the Khmer riel in circulation. Transitioning from a centrally
planned economy to a free market economy.
|- 1993 to Present:
|Gradually the banking system was strengthened and modernized and
Cambodia becomes one of the strongest growing economies in the
SLIDESHOW OF THE HISTORY OF THE NBC
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INDEPENDENCE AND ESTABLISHMENT (1954-1964)
The National Bank of Cambodia was established on December 23,
1954, after the country gained independence from the French
Protectorate and after the Institut d Émission (the printing
house for the three Indochine countries was closed).
Before then, the Institute d'Émission, located in Cambodia,
printed one currency for the three Indochine countries
(Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam).
After independence, the NBC printed its own national currency,
the Khmer riel in order to have complete sovereignty of
Cambodia's monetary stability and to help build the identity of
the nation. At the same time, the local banking system was being
established, in which state banks and private banks started
Under King Norodom Sihanouk's Sangkum Reastr Niyum era in the
1960s, development flourished in the kingdom. In 1964, the
banking system was reformed to meet the nation's growing
economic and development needs. As such, the National Bank of
Cambodia became a semi-autonomous institution to the state-owned
bank, under the form of the public entity with characteristics
of industry and commerce. Meanwhile national and foreign private
banks were closed, and the government established some
state-owned banks such as the Inateancheat Development Bank, and
the Rural Agricultural Bank.
KHMER ROUGE (1975 - 1979)
On April 17th, 1975, the National Bank of Cambodia was closed
when the Khmer Rouge regime came into power. The NBC building
was destroyed, the banking system was eliminated, and the use of
riel banknotes was abolished. On January 7, 1979 the Khmer Rouge
regime collapsed and the NBC was reestablished as the central
bank of the country on October 10, 1979. It was renamed the
"People's Bank of Kampuchea" by the Council of the Revolutionary
People of Cambodia. However, rebuilding the bank and the nation
was extremely difficult soon after the war. With an effort in
overcoming the obstacles of reconstructing a new banking system
from scratch, H.E. Chea Chanto, Senior Minister and Governor of
the National Bank of Cambodia (and one of the initial founders
of the NBC), along with a few of the staff who survived,
committed to rebuilding the NBC.
The challenges soon after the Khmer Rouge regime were enormous.
Since many intellectuals were killed by the Khmer Rouge or fled
the country after the war, there was very little knowledge,
expertise, and experience to draw from. Some qualified survivors
that did remain in the country were mentally frightful of
working since they feared the Khmer Rouge could return. In
addition, there was a severe lack of financial resources.
As the economy was still weak and money supply was virtually
non-existent due to the Khmer Rouge's policy, economic
activities were still largely conducted on a trade and barter
system, and civil servant salaries were paid in available local
commodities (rice, fish, oil, gas, etc.).
It wasn't until March 20th, 1980 when the People's Bank of
Kampuchea reissued the riel banknotes to facilitate the exchange
of goods and the payment of civil servant salaries. Despite
these challenges with every day, month and year that passed the
NBC staff continued to move forward in reestablishing the
nation's bank piece by piece.
REBUILDING THE NATIONAL BANK OF CAMBODIA (1979 - 1993)
During the 1980s, the People's Bank of Kampuchea had three basic
functions; be the monetary authority, serve as the National
Treasury, and provide banking services including credit,
deposits, and a payment system. Since the NBC building was
nearly demolished by the Khmer Rouge, the temporary head office
of the bank was opened on the upper floor of the Khmer Bank of
Commerce. The People's Bank of Kampuchea set up the leadership
structure as well as the operational activities. Furthermore,
the bank extended to 20-provincial and municipal networks across
Since 1989 the banking system was gradually reformed through
transforming the 20-provincial and municipal banks into
specialized provincial and municipal banks and operating with
economic and financial autonomy in their territory. As the
monetary authority, the People's Bank of Kampuchea supervised
the operations of these banks. As for the ruined NBC building,
it was removed and rebuilt in 1990.
In 1991, the first commercial bank (Cambodia Commercial Bank
"CCB") was established under the form of a state joint venture
bank to attract investors and serve the activities of the United
Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). The Paris
Peace Accord on October 23, 1991 transformed the economic regime
from a planning economy to a free market economy.
On January 30, 1992, the National Assembly of Cambodia adopted
the Law on the Change of Organization's name and duty of the
bank of Cambodia from the "People's Bank of Kampuchea" back to
the "National Bank of Cambodia", which was promulgated by the
council of state in February 8, 1992.
The NBC compiled and prepared the Financial Sector Blueprint for
2001-2010. The document served as the foundations for the
Financial Sector Development Strategy to increase the public's
confidence of the banking system and how Cambodia can be better
integrated into the global financial system. As the nation's
central bank, in order to raise its influence and prestige, the
NBC building was again renovated in 2003.
Cambodia's banking system has made remarkable progress since the
second half of the 1990's when the Law of Organization and
Conduct of the National Bank of Cambodia, the Law on Banking and
Financial Institutions, and other laws and regulations, as well
as other key banking reforms were implemented.
MODERNIZATION OF THE BANKING SYSTEM (1993 -
Presently, the banking system in Cambodia comprises of 36
commercial banks, 11 specialized banks, 7 foreign bank
representative offices, 39 microfinance institutions (including
7 microfinance deposit taking institutions), 38 rural credit
operators, 6 leasing companies, 1 credit bureau company, 6 third
party processers, and 1,770 money changers. Banking and
financial institutions have continued to expand their operating
networks through the opening of representative branches and
offices in the capital and provinces, and installing Automatic
Teller Machines (ATM) in addition to electronic payment
Cambodia's banking system has come a long way; from building the
foundations of a banking system soon after independence, to the
destruction of a monetary system during the Khmer Rouge regime,
to paying civil servant salaries with rice and fish soon after
the regime, to building an increasingly well managed and
sophisticated banking and financial sector from scratch.